This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post at this link:
The thing not to do: One thing to try to avoid with blackheads is obsessively scrubbing your face. It can cause your skin to become sensitive and irritated, therefore making inflammation and blackheads worse. Also, over drying the skin by overly washing your skin with harsh acne washes or scrubs can just end up drying out your skin, which could lead to more excess oil. Some oil is good for the skin and allows the skin to remain balanced and calm. When the skin becomes too dry, it can cause your skin to overproduce oil by over correcting for the dryness to make up for everything you stripped away, and leads to the perpetual acne, blackheads dilemma.
Now for Solutions: Here are some comprehensive remedies that include a mix of home remedies, in-office dermatological/medical spa procedures and over the counter methods for removing and preventing blackheads for people with both sensitive and regular skin. It is important to remember that every person has their individual skin type and that different treatments may work differently for certain people, therefore, sometimes it takes some trial and error to find the best remedy. Once you have found a good treatment plan that works, it is important to remain consistent with your skincare regimen. Here are some tips to help remedy and prevent blackheads:
At Home Remedies and DIY Solutions:
Exfoliating is one of the only variables we do have control of when it comes to minimizing the appearance of blackheads. You can use cleansers, brushes, and sponges scrubbing away plugged pores gently, but chances are you already have some key elements in your fridge. A home remedy that acts as a gentle scrub is baking soda mixed with water, creating a soft exfoliating cleansing paste. It’s similar to a DIY light microdermabrasion to exfoliate the skin. Exfoliating your skin helps prevent clogged pores from forming and allows blackheads to come out by gently removing dead skin cells along with dirt and grime, therefore allowing new clear skin cells to come to the surface. Alternatively, you can use apple cider vinegar instead of water, which has astringent and anti-bacterial properties and will similarly clean out pores.
2. Facial Masks:
Facial masks are necessary as well. For example, masks containing Clay or Activated Charcoal can help with exfoliating and deeply cleaning out your pores as well as help absorb existing excess oil. Doing a mask regularly, but not excessively is important as to not to irritate your skin, but to deeply cleanse the skin from dirt and other impurities and harmful bacteria. Using masks helps to prevent clogged pores from forming and makes your pores look smaller and gives you a better complexion.
3. Salicylic and Glycolic Acids:
Both Salicylic and Glycolic Acid are great topical solutions to break down oil in clogged pores. By using beta hydroxy acid (salicylic) or combination peels containing salicylic acid, it helps to bring to the surface the blackheads, unclogging your pores by dissolving impurities. By consistently using these acids in either your cleansers, scrubs, facial pads or prescriptive topical creams/lotions, they will prevent the blackheads before they form and clear existing pores. Additionally, glycolic acid, (alpha hydroxy acid) helps clear dead skin and debris on the surface. In tandem, these two acids pair well to unclog and exfoliate the skin.
Retinoids are a vitamin A derivative; it’s one of best ways to remove clogged pores and prevent blackheads from forming. While prescription-strength forms are the most efficient, there are several highly effective over-the-counter retinol solutions also work well. Retinoids work by speeding the skin’s cell turnover rate. This process again exfoliates the skin to bring healthier skin to the surface and prevents pores from getting clogged. Therefore, by shedding the outer layers of the skin retinoids also help in limiting acne breakouts as well. In the begging with retinoids, there can be noticeable peeling and redness that occurs. However, as your skin starts getting acclimated to the regular use of retinoids and finding the right amount of balance of use per week, the redness and flakiness lessens and leaves the skin appearing more radiant and bright.
In Office Professional Microdermabrasion Treatments/ Peels & Extractions:
In office professional microdermabrasion treatments are a much stronger form of exfoliating the skin. This treatment uses a machine to deeply and thoroughly scrub the skin helping to shed off the very superficial top layer of the skin. Microdermabrasion can help the skin a great deal by acting like sand paper to smooth out the skin by physically removing the top dead layers of the skin.
Also, in office forms of Chemical Peels and Professional Comedone Extractions are fantastic methods of removing blackheads and preventing breakouts from forming and leaving the skin looking much clearer. These treatments can improve skin texture and complexion. However, with these treatments, it is important for people with sensitive skin to see a real professional to make sure that the right strength and levels are being used to get the best results without being too abrasive.
These are just some possible tips for removing blackheads. Please remember the more sensitive your skin is, the better it is to use lighter versions of products and treatments first and work your way up.